Illegal TV streaming services known as pirate IPTV have a large presence on Facebook.
Illegal or pirate internet protocol television (IPTV) services offer live TV over the internet but do not pay carriage fees for retransmission.
These services often operate by stealing satellite TV broadcasts. They then employ technology to stream channels over an internet connection and resell those broadcasts to consumers willing to pay the comparatively low subscription fees.
This is why pirate IPTV services have become so attractive to consumers. Even with the lower cost of entry offered by legal OTT services compared to traditional cable TV, many consumers are distinctly attracted to the best deal possible for TV.
It also appears some have purchased sponsored ads on Facebook, allowing the social media platform to generate revenue from illegal streaming services.
As the ‘cord-cutting’ movement grows to meet increasing consumer demand for low-cost digital TV streaming, liability protections under the Communications Decency Act and the DMCA, as well as potentially lax standards at Facebook, have allowed illegal TV streaming services to flourish on the social media platform.
Worryingly, Facebook’s oversights appear to have allowed the company to generate ad revenue from this form of piracy.
Research conducted by comparitech.com has found hundreds of illegal IPTV services are currently active on Facebook through unverified product and company pages. Some even purchase Facebook ads, which allows them to reach a larger number of potential customers.
However, in flaunting Facebook’s ad approval policy, which explicitly takes a stance against illegal products and services, the continued existence and boldness of pirate IPTV providers on Facebook raises legitimate questions about how far the platform’s protections should extend.
Additionally, Facebook’s failure to enforce its stated ad review policies against illegal products and services may create financial and privacy risks for its users.
Many illegal IPTV services purposefully mislead potential and current subscribers regarding the legitimacy of the service and its privacy protections.
Pirate IPTV providers rarely offer refunds, even when they’re forced to cease operations. Some subscribers have also been compelled into paying large legal settlements for using illegal TV streaming services.
There’s little question that pirate IPTV services are breaking US and other international copyright laws by reselling satellite TV broadcasts. Several court cases in recent years have proven that such services are not only illegal but also reap huge profits in the process.
A large question mark exists regarding whether Facebook should have any legal liability for allowing illegal IPTV operations to sell and advertise on its platform. Thanks to safe harbor protections from the DMCA, Facebook is protected from copyright liability if it removes infringing material from its service within a reasonable amount of time.
But pirate IPTV services rarely, if ever, post any copyrighted content, meaning Facebook has no legal incentive to remove their pages.
So how can you steer clear of these services? Open your Facebook account, go to the search bar, type in “IPTV” and switch the search results to Pages.
You’ll now see a long, seemingly endless list of Facebook pages carrying the term IPTV, many of which have hundreds of likes. Some advertise their wares in the description, although many offer tongue-in-cheek discretion in the descriptions until you go to their pages.
Now, click on the box for ‘Verified’. That impossibly long list immediately drops down to just three services, none of which even uses the term IPTV.
Always remember – legal TV streaming services never use IPTV in their product or company name, have a closer cost-to-channels ratio, and always have an official website.
Illegal IPTV services often only accept PayPal and cryptocurrencies and communicate through encrypted messaging services.
To stay safe, ask the service provider how it can afford to offer than many channels for the price, and always check for a blue verified mark on Facebook to show their legitimacy.